Exploration and Production Technologies
Test and Evaluation Services for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve


The purpose of this project is to conduct analytical support services and project research that addresses petroleum technology problems as required by the Strategic Petroleum Reserve Headquarters (SPRHQ) in support of its mandated mission of maintaining a crude oil stockpile to mitigate a disruption in supply.

Strategic Petroleum Reserve - Washington DC

Nothrop Grumman Mission Systems - Bartlesville, OK

Throughout the year, a number of samples are received for analyses and the results are compiled and compared to previous analyses for the respective samples. A review of these data comparisons is not included here, but a listing of the analyses completed is provided. Basically, 4 types of sample analyses are conducted, and include sample inspection sets, sludge inspection sets, H2S analyses, and comprehensive crude oil assays.

Samples from each of the following caverns and other selected crude oils were analyzed with an abbreviated set of tests. These tests include relative density, PIANO, pour point, nitrogen content, sulfur content, kinematic viscosity (77° F, 100° F), and water content. On some occasions, additional tests were also conducted on these samples.

Sludge samples were analyzed with an abbreviated set of tests. These tests included relative density, water content, pour point, nitrogen content, sulfur content, salt content, wax content, acid number, sediment, ash content, and asphaltene content. On some occasions, additional tests were also conducted on these samples.

Full crude oil assays were also completed for a number of crude oil and cavern oil samples. Analytical tests included in the crude oil assay are much more extensive, and include detailed chemical and physical properties needed by petroleum refineries to properly process them in their process streams. Data formats of these assays were also generated in accordance with a majority of assay analysts in the industry.

Northrop Grumman and its predecessors have served as the analytical and technical support laboratory for the SPRHQ of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) since 1978. The work in this report is a continuation of these support activities to assist the SPRHQ in fulfilling its mandated mission of maintaining a viable stockpile of crude oil. More specifically, to conduct detailed analysis of crude oil streams, cargoes and storage cavern composites necessary to ascertain the quality of the nearly 700 million barrels of stored oil.

The Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) was established in December 1975 by the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (Public Law 94 163). This law and subsequent amendments declared it to be the policy of the United States to purchase and store up to 750 million barrels of crude oil to reduce the impact of disruptions in supply. Crude oil purchase specifications, analytical research, and quality control programs were established by SPRHQ to ensure the marketability of petroleum stored in the reserve.

The SPR has purchased a diverse mixture of crude oils for storage in salt cavities. These crude oils have been commingled in storage, depending on their quality, producing sweet (<0.5% S) and sour (>0.5 – 2.0% S) streams at each site. If improperly stored, conditions present could induce changes in properties of stored crude oils due to chemical, physical, or biological processes. As these changes could affect the recovery, sale, and refining of stored crude oils, stocks are periodically sampled and analyzed as part of a long-term quality surveillance and assessment program. Furthermore, detailed analytical data on the quality of SPR stocks resulting from these tests are an integral part of Notices of Sale.

A number of crude oil samples were analyzed this year, including both samples extracted from SPR caverns and other crude oils of potential interest. Analytical test groups include 4 complete inspection sets, 4 special samples for H2S analyses, 1 sludge inspection set, and 10 composite samples for comprehensive assay analyses.

In addition, 3 samples were analyzed by a number of tests in the ILCP program. In this program, a number of identical samples are distributed among participating laboratories for quality control purposes, enabling each laboratory to compare its results to all other participating laboratories and evaluate laboratory precision. As was shown in a comparative table, results from our laboratory were consistently better than would be predicted from statistical averages derived from the other participants.

Finally, additional work continued in 2 areas of interest: (1) further investigation into the determination of asphaltene content in SPR crude oil sludge samples according to ASTM method D 6560, and (2) updating of the chemical and capital equipment inventory. The chemical inventory and corresponding MSDSs were entered into an excel data base for easier access.

Current Status (February 2008)
Technical support provided during this period included routine quality assurance testing of samples from SPR storage caverns and crude oil receipts. Five regular inspections, eight sludge inspections and other individual tests were conducted on several SPR samples.

Eighteen samples were received for analyses.

Project Start: October,, 2003 
Project End: October, 2008

Anticipated DOE Contribution: $927,482
Performer Contribution: $0

Contact Information 
NETL – Jesse Garcia (jesse.garcia@netl.doe.gov or 918-699-2036) 
Northrop Grumman – Arden Strycker (Arden.Strycker@ngc.com or 918-338-4457)
DOE SPR - Jeremy Cusimano (Jeremy.Cusimano@HQ.DOE.GOV or 202-586-6544)